|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.78(d)|
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Ayda stopped dead in the hall when she saw the library several days later. A two-story room of mahogany paneling surrounded her, shelves from floor to ceiling, while a railed walkway gave access to the second floor books. The shelves were filled with rare and old classics of Scottish history and law, many in ancient leather bindings. A huge carved Renaissance mantle surrounded the fireplace.
"Oh, my God." Ayda murmured. The room belonged in some university or men's club of old. Not all the pictures were from famous artists though, one drawing caught her eye, and the signature at the bottom was Cora Sinclair 1761, obviously a relation. Unlike all the professional portraits, this Cora had caught the highland lord to perfection, not posed in the house but in his surroundings, not the land through a window. Looking around, Ayda couldn't help but pull the ladder over on the second level and climb to look at one ancient volume she spied on the highest shelf. Ayda reached high to pull the book from its place when the ladder suddenly started to slip from beneath her. An eerily glowing figure, dressed in a kilt with long black hair, had his arms out, but she fell right through. With nothing to grab hold of, she found herself falling over the side of the railing to the floor some twenty feet below. Ayda watched the ceiling recede as if in slow motion, knowing she was going to break her neck. Suddenly she stopped falling, and more importantly, no overwhelming pain filled her body. Turning her head, she found herself nose to nose with a man who wasn't Charlie. No, it was the man that had punched someone out several days before.
"Did you see...?" Ayda started to say but was unable tocontinue. She'd sound like a crackpot if she mentioned a ghost. It was her imagination run wild.
"Are you all right?" he asked. "I'm surprised no one told you the stop mechanism is broken, the book appraiser we had in here a month ago is still in a cast." Gingerly he sat her down on the sofa. "You're sure nothing's hurt?"
"If you hadn't been here, I'd hate to think of what would have happened."
Mrs. Sinclair rushed in as fast as her legs could carry her. "Don't tell me it happened again, Hunter. Are you alright, Ayda?"
Still trying to take stock of the fact she was indeed not hurt, it took a moment for her to answer. "Fine, but if he hadn't been here, I don't think I would be." She was certain he recognized her from the pub; there was a hint of uncertainty in his eyes. He took her all in but there wasn't the lecherous look she got from the red haired man.
"Hunter, I remember ordering you to fix that ladder," Mrs. Sinclair announced with her hands on her hips.
He only went and kissed her forehead. Not the actions of the man on a rampage a few days before. "Yes, Grandmother, you did. Parts for a two hundred-year-old system take time to get. The company said they still wouldn't be here for a few weeks yet. I had it roped off. What happened to that?"
"Oh ... Charlie had to take it down to get the last painting that Ayda wanted to work on. I guess it didn't get put back up while she had it."
"No harm done, why don't you go back to your bridge party?" Hunter suggested. Straightening her dress, Mrs. Sinclair left the room, nodding, before he sank on the sofa. "You took five years off my life, you know."
"Then I think fifteen came off my life. I was the one that actually fell."
He turned with a grin. "I'm Hunter Sinclair, since we weren't introduced earlier. Are you angry at me for hitting your friend?"
"Yes, my grandmother has been telling me all about you whenever we're on the phone. If she had mentioned you were the young side of fifty, I would have come back sooner. She didn't do you justice at all."
Her heart beating fast from a near miss at serious injury turned very quickly to beating hard from that grin. "I was just sharing a table with him since the place was full. Since I don't have him to champion me, I'll have to say myself I don't think your grandmother would approve of you making such statements to a stranger."
His smile grew wide as he leaned near her ear. "It's an old Sinclair family tradition to flirt with beautiful women, and we take tradition very seriously. It makes up for the fact there's no television."
"I have to get back to work." Hunter was still grinning when she looked back before leaving the room. It was a little boring in the evenings. She was halfway down the hall before she remembered the warning about ending up a Sinclair whore. Had she just received proof it was true?
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